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Young Mr. Lincoln

Released Jun 9, 1939 1h 40m History Drama List
100% Tomatometer 23 Reviews 81% Audience Score 1,000+ Ratings In this dramatized account of his early law career in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln (Henry Fonda) is born into a modest log cabin, where he is encouraged by his first love, Ann Rutledge (Pauline Moore), to pursue law. Following her tragic death, Lincoln establishes a law practice in Springfield, where he meets a young Mary Todd (Marjorie Weaver). Lincoln's law skills are put to the test when he takes on the difficult task of defending two brothers who have been accused of murder. Read More Read Less Watch on Fandango at Home Buy Now

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Young Mr. Lincoln

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Critics Consensus

Young Mr. Lincoln smartly sidesteps the grandeur of the 16th president's historical significance and instead hones in on his modest decency, powerfully embodied by Henry Fonda.

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Critics Reviews

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Time Out This first product of the Ford-Fonda partnership -- reputedly a favourite not only of Ford but of Eisenstein too -- today commands classic status. Jun 24, 2006 Full Review Steven D. Greydanus Decent Films Rangy, folksy, slow-spoken and self-deprecating, Fonda embodies the young Honest Abe persona as comfortably and naturally as the frontier clothes he wears. Rated: B+ Feb 12, 2006 Full Review Emanuel Levy Variety One of the decade's most significant works, the film was admired by Soveit director Sergei Eisenstein for its embodiment of the era's spirit and by the French critics of Cahiers du Cinema for its convergence of ideology and style. Rated: A Jan 26, 2006 Full Review Matt Brunson Film Frenzy John Ford, as responsible as any filmmaker in shaping our view of US history, here elects to offer a peek at an icon before national events dictated his destiny and sealed his lofty reputation. Rated: 3.5/4 Sep 18, 2021 Full Review Michael J. Casey Michael J. Cinema We are never as far from the past as we like to think. Rated: 5/5 Jan 17, 2021 Full Review Mattie Lucas From the Front Row As Eisenstein pointed out, Ford would go on to make grander, greater films. But none were quite so discreetly powerful as Young Mr. Lincoln . Rated: 4/4 Jun 3, 2019 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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steve d Fantastic biopic about a little-known part of Abe's life. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review Audience Member Henry Fonda's Lincoln is earnest, thoughtful and a terrific antidote to today's political climate. If you want to remember what being American is supposed to mean, while still seeing all of the raw mob mentality that our freedoms can sometimes bring out, rent this timeless classic. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/09/23 Full Review Julia M Released in 1939, Young Mr. Lincoln has never received the same level of attention as a number of other films of that year. Yet in its own quiet way Young Mr. Lincoln is as great a masterpiece as The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, Wuthering Heights, or Stagecoach. With Henry Fonda in the title role, the film is a character study of a young man who opts to learn the law and work within its limits to make a better world. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 01/28/19 Full Review Ed M Fonda's a legend but the movie is just okay. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 12/07/18 Full Review Audience Member Young Mr. Lincoln is a biopic that pulls a surprising bait-and-switch. In the early scenes I got the impression this would be taking a large scope look at the entire early life and career of Lincoln, possibly right up into his time as president. However, it hits this one event and slowed down all of the sudden. I started to wonder why the movie was spending so long on this one fight and the death that resulted from it. Little did I know, this was going to be the focus of the rest of the film. In fact, Young Mr. Lincoln is less of a biopic and more of a legal drama. I’m always excited about courtroom dramas, so this was not a disappointment to me. I found it engaging to see how informal small-town justice might have been at the time. The movie did a good job of balancing that quaint tone with the weight of a death and potential lynching. Henry Fonda was an odd casting choice for Abraham Lincoln, because he acts shy and unassuming. He’s almost too polite and well-mannered to the point that the movie seems to be idolizing him, which makes it feel a bit less honest and real. I think the humble portrayal worked for the story they were telling in this movie, but he certainly didn’t strike me as the impressive presence I picture when reading about the 16th president. The facts of the case aren’t all that mysterious or hard to figure out. The way the trial ends is predictable, and a little ridiculous because of how it lacked proper procedures. It’s also a tiny bit unsatisfying because there’s still more story that needs to be told about how justice will be served in this murder. I did enjoy Young Mr. Lincoln, but it wasn’t as thrilling as I was hoping, particularly because it focuses on a character that I find so fascinating. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 05/10/18 Full Review Audience Member Early Fonda doesn't do it for me. And this is a slow drag with little point. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 12/26/17 Full Review Read all reviews
Young Mr. Lincoln

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Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis In this dramatized account of his early law career in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln (Henry Fonda) is born into a modest log cabin, where he is encouraged by his first love, Ann Rutledge (Pauline Moore), to pursue law. Following her tragic death, Lincoln establishes a law practice in Springfield, where he meets a young Mary Todd (Marjorie Weaver). Lincoln's law skills are put to the test when he takes on the difficult task of defending two brothers who have been accused of murder.
Director
John Ford
Producer
Darryl F Zanuck
Screenwriter
Lamar Trotti
Distributor
Key Video, 20th Century Fox
Production Co
Twentieth Century Fox, Cosmopolitan Productions
Genre
History, Drama
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
Jun 9, 1939, Wide
Release Date (Streaming)
Oct 8, 2015
Runtime
1h 40m
Sound Mix
Mono
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